President Barack Obama's chief of staff said the White House will not endorse a Democratic primary candidate in the 2016 contest — contrary to reports over the summer suggesting the president might have been interested in weighing in.
"We'll do exactly what has been done in the past, which is when the nominee will be set, then the president will be out there," White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said in a 'Meet the Press' interview with Chuck Todd Sunday.
McDonough also responded to questions about whether Obama's op-ed in the New York Times about gun control — which stated that he will only campaign for candidates who support gun reform — was an attempt to call out Democratic candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, who has waffled on the gun issue over the course of his political career.
"This isn't only about the [presidential] primary," McDonough said. "We've got a third of the Senate that's running, we've got all the House that's running, we've got state houses and governorships across the country where this is going to be an issue on the ballot."
McDonough argued that, in the op-ed, the president is saying that "across the board, he's going to be a single issue voter" on guns. "He think that makes sense, given the enormity of the challenge."
McDonough also said the president has met with Sanders "both with the Senate Democratic Caucus and privately." He called the junior senator from the Green Mountain state "a leading senator in our caucus."
Obama's fifth chief of staff criticized GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump, saying "it's hard to segregate him and all the other candidates out there seeming to run down America."
"I don't really get it. What I see is an America that's surging," McDonough said, highlighting the most recent robust job growth report.
He also addressed President Obama's final State of the Union speech on Tuesday evening.
"You'll hear a big, optimistic generous view of the future of America from the President on Tuesday," McDonough said.